NEW YORK - Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Finnish conductor with an enthusiasm for modern, US-inspired works, was Wednesday named composer-in-residence at the New York Philharmonic.

The New York Philharmonic announced the appointment as it unveiled its 2015-16 season, which will also include prominent roles for the American bass-baritone Eric Owens and the Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov. Salonen, who will write a new piece for the philharmonic, was named composer-in-residence for the next three seasons.  Salonen started as a composer in his native Finland but is best known for his 17 years as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which he was credited with transforming into one of the world’s more innovative orchestras. Announcing the appointment, New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert voiced confidence that Salonen would ‘bring a very contemporary and masterful perspective.’ The Philharmonic said that Salonen will co-curate its 2016 biennial, which explores new music, during which Gilbert will conduct the world premiere of a new work that the Finnish composer is writing.

Also under Gilbert’s lead, the orchestra will in September perform the New York premiere of Salonen’s 1997 ‘Los Angeles Variations,’ the composer’s signature piece in which he sought to be more audience-accessible even while musically challenging.

Salonen, describing ‘Los Angeles Variations,’ said that he conceived of the work on a morning in the 1990s when he sat for a coffee in sun-kissed Santa Monica. ‘Then I sat there and wondered, why do I feel so strange? And then I realized I was happy, which for a Finnish person is not a normal state of mind,’ Salonen said. ‘But I also felt profoundly free. I realized that I had been in L.A. long enough to feel free of the European modernist tradition I was brought up in, where everything was forbidden.’

Gilbert said of the work: ‘I love ‘L.A. Variations.’ I feel very close to its explosion of energy that is as appropriate to New York as it is to Los Angeles.’ The New York Philharmonic will also perform Salonen’s ‘Karawane,’ a playful piece with a chorus and orchestra that is based on a poem of non-sensical words by the German Dadaist writer Hugo Ball. Salonen, 56, who after leaving Los Angeles in 2009 became the principal conductor of London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, will also take the baton for a number of performances in New York.

Among them will be a week of works by Olivier Messiaen, the 20th-century French composer known for his complicated structures inspired by birds and Roman Catholicism. The New York Philharmonic has long commissioned new works - perhaps most famously Antonin Dvorak’s ‘New World Symphony,’ which premiered there in 1893. The Philharmonic set up the composer-in-residence position in 2009 with another Finn, Magnus Lindberg, with the American Christopher Rouse holding the position for the past two seasons.

The Philharmonic also named the bass-baritone Owens as its 2015-16 artist-in-residence. Known for his skill with German Romantic opera, the Grammy winner will sing works of Mahler, Strauss and Wagner. Owens will also curate a program in October to highlight works associated with great African-American singers. Owens, who is African American, said that he wanted to pay tribute to singers ‘who have, in many ways, paved the way for me.’ The New York Philharmonic’s season will begin September 24 with Grieg’s Piano Concerto, performed by Chinese star Lang Lang, and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. The concert will be broadcast on US public television.